1 IP/08/694 Bruxelles, den 6. maj 2008 SOLVIT: Det indre markeds problemløsningsnet har haft 75 % stigning i sagsbehandlingen i 2007 En spansk studerende ønskede at starte sine universitetsstudier i Belgien, men blev afslået, fordi de spanske myndigheder endnu ikke havde udstedt det originale eksamensbevis fra gymnasiet. SOLVIT overtalte universitetet til at acceptere et andet bevis, således at hun ikke kom til at miste et helt akademisk år. En britisk fabrikant af radioudstyr til søfarten blev af de tyske myndigheder anmodet om at genafprøve sine produkter i Tyskland, selv om de allerede var blevet afprøvet og markedsført i andre EU-medlemsstater. SOLVIT tog affære og sikrede, at produkterne kunne sælges i Tyskland uden bekostelig genafprøvning. Det er kun to eksempler på de hundreder af problemer, som det lykkede SOLVIT at løse for borgere og virksomheder i Sidste år behandlede EU's SOLVIT-net 819 problemer hos borgere og virksomheder, der blot ville benytte deres rettigheder på det indre marked; 679 (83 %) af disse problemer blev løst. I sit femte leveår skete der en vækst på 75 % i sagsmængden hos SOLVIT sammenlignet med 2006, og det lykkedes at holde en høj problemløsningsprocent og en kort sagsbehandlingstid. Disse tal fremgår af Europa-Kommissionens årsrapport om SOLVIT, der konkluderede, at 2007 igen var et vellykket år for SOLVIT, men også, at der stadig var personalemangel i adskillige af de nationale SOLVIT-centre. Adskillige medlemsstater afsætter stadig ikke nok ressourcer til SOLVIT-centrene til, at de kan påtage sig oplysningskampagner. Charlie McCreevy, der er kommissær for det indre marked og tjenesteydelser, siger: "SOLVIT har bevist sin berettigelse, ikke kun som et vellykket problemløsningsværktøj, men også som en model for administrativt samarbejde mellem medlemsstaterne. Det viser, at det er muligt, selv inden for en kompleks multikulturel organisation som Den Europæiske Union, at gå bort fra formelle, tidrøvende procedurer og over til en uformel, pragmatisk og hurtig tilgang. Flere og flere europæere henvender sig til SOLVIT, når de støder på hindringer på det indre marked. Med SOLVIT's hurtige og effektive service får de en personlig og venlig hjælp." Hovedkonklusionerne af SOLVIT-rapporten for 2007 Bulgarien og Rumænien sluttede sig til SOLVIT-nettet i januar 2007, hvilket medførte en stigning på 15 % i sagstilgangen. Begge lande har oprettet velfungerende SOLVIT-centre med god problemløsningskapacitet. SOLVIT fejrede i juli 2007 sin femårsfødselsdag med festligheder i Bruxelles og i medlemsstaterne. Intensivering af oplysningskampagner og indførelse af en klageformular på nettet i december 2005 var grundlaget for den betydelige vækst i antallet af behandlede sager. I den overordnede SOLVIT-sagsbehandling fordobledes antallet af klager fra borgerne, medens antallet af klager fra virksomheder forblev på samme niveau som i Under 20 % af SOLVIT-sager kom fra virksomheder, hvilket viser, at det er nødvendigt at intensivere oplysningskampagnerne for denne målgruppe.
2 SOLVIT modtog stor opbakning fra Europa-Parlamentet i 2007, der oprettede en ny budgetkonto med henblik på videreudvikling og fremme af SOLVIT. Adskillige medlemmer af Europa-Parlamentet er desuden blevet mere engageret i at fremme SOLVIT som led i deres daglige arbejde. SOLVIT leverede fortsat en service af høj kvalitet og talrige succeshistorier. Som det også var tilfældet sidste år, tilskyndes de nationale myndigheder imidlertid til at give SOLVIT-centrene tilstrækkeligt personale. Uden tilstrækkeligt personale vil det ikke blive muligt at opfylde de fastsatte kvalitetsnormer i alle SOLVIT-centre, at levere løsninger inden 10 ugers-fristen og iværksætte oplysningsvirksomhed. SOLVIT 2007 i fakta og tal Det samlede antal behandlede sager steg med 75 %. 819 sager blev anset for egnede til behandling af SOLVIT; det svarer til omkring 20 % af alle modtagne forespørgsler. De resterende blev henvist til andre instanser eller net. Den gennemsnitlige SOLVIT-problemløsningsprocent for sager var på 83. Af alle løste sager blev 77 % løst inden for fristen på 10 uger. Sagsbehandlingsforløbet lå fortsat på gennemsnitligt 58 dage. 82 % af SOLVIT-sagerne kom fra borgere. De væsentligste problemområder for borgerne var social sikring (32 %), anerkendelse af faglige kvalifikationer (24 %) og opholdsret, navnlig for EU-borgeres ægtefæller fra tredjelande. 18 % af SOLVIT-sagerne kom fra virksomheder. Deres hovedproblemområder er beskatning (30 %), produkters markedsadgang (20 %) og tjenesteydelser og etableringsret (20 %). Om SOLVIT Kommissionen og medlemsstaterne oprettede SOLVIT-nettet i 2002 til at løse praktiske problemer i forbindelse med det indre marked. SOLVIT har siden behandlet over sager på et hav af forskellige områder såsom opholdstilladelser, anerkendelse af faglige kvalifikationer, ret til beskæftigelse og social sikkerhed, markedsadgang for produkter, ydelse af tjenester, momsgodtgørelse og grænsekontrol for virksomheder. SOLVIT finder pragmatiske løsninger på klagerne inden en frist på gennemsnitlig 10 uger. SOLVIT er gratis og let at bruge. Klagere kan sende deres klager via en webformular på deres eget sprog eller kontakte deres nationale SOLVIT-center. SOLVIT indgår i en gruppe af tjenester, der skal hjælpe borgerne og virksomhederne med at få det bedste ud af deres EU-rettigheder, og som tæller Europe Direct, informationsportalen Dit Europa (http://ec.europa.eu/youreurope) og Borgernes Vejviserservice (http://ec.europa.eu/citizensrights), der yder personlig juridisk rådgivning rapporten findes på SOLVIT-webstedet: 2
3 Annex SELECTION OF SOLVIT SUCCESS STORIES IN 2007 FREE MOVEMENT OF PERSONS UNITED KINGDOM - PORTUGAL SOLVIT helps British newlyweds to put icing on the cake A British couple officially married in the United Kingdom invited their friends and relatives to join them for their wedding celebrations in Portugal. The bride's father, an Iranian national married to a British citizen for over 25 years, and living and working in the UK, applied for a two-week visa to Portugal. He provided all necessary documents, but the visa was nonetheless refused for 'Immigration issues.' The groom contacted SOLVIT, which worked with the relevant authorities to grant the bride's father a visa in time for the celebrations in Portugal. The groom exclaimed in gratitude, "This good news has come as such a relief and I am happy to say that my wedding celebration will now be a time of happiness." Solved within two weeks. AUSTRIA - LITHUANIA SOLVIT facilitates Austrian visa for Russian mother of a Lithuanian citizen A Lithuanian national and her Russian mother, both legally resident in Lithuania, wished to travel to Austria together. The Austrian Embassy in Vilnius requested the mother to submit a visa application and various additional documents concerning her place of residence in Austria, an invitation to Austria, financial documents, health insurance and more. SOLVIT Austria requested an accelerated procedure, which was granted after certain conditions regarding the process had been clarified between both parties. Solved within three weeks. SOCIAL SECURITY PORTUGAL - ITALY SOLVIT helps Portuguese citizen to obtain her Italian pension A 82-year-old Portuguese citizen received a pension from the Italian system. Italian authorities requested her to send a 'proof of life' which she did by registered mail immediately after receiving the request. However, at the same time, the Italian authorities stopped payment of her pension. This put her in a very difficult situation since this pension was her only means of subsistence. SOLVIT intervened to clarify the situation and was able to arrange rapid payment of the amount due. Solved within two weeks. PORTUGAL - GREECE SOLVIT defends rights of Portuguese researcher in Greece A Portuguese chemical researcher was working on a doctoral thesis at a university in Greece. Since she was eligible for benefits under the university's health insurance scheme, she applied for an exemption from the national social security system. However, the Greek authorities refused to grant such an exemption because she was Portuguese. SOLVIT advanced the non-discrimination principle and managed to convince the Greek authorities to reconsider their decision and agree to the requested exemption. Solved within one week.
4 RECOGNITION OF PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS LATVIAN - MALTA SOLVIT helps Latvian nurse to work in Malta A Latvian nurse had moved to Malta after marrying a Maltese national. Her diploma as a registered nurse was not recognised as valid for work, due to alleged discrepancies in her certificate and period of employment. SOLVIT Malta intervened to clarify that the Latvian diploma should be recognised under EU rules, allowing her to be issued with the necessary nursing certificate required for her job in Malta. Solved within 10 weeks. FREEDOM TO PROVIDE SERVICES GERMAN - ITALY SOLVIT lets tourists charter German yachts in Italy A German enterprise chartered four yachts under German flag to tourists in Italy. The business-owner was fined for not having registered its commercial yachts with local port authorities in accordance with recent Italian regulations. Five months later, after repeated efforts to obtain registration, the businessowner was told that registration would only be possible if the business was established in Italy. SOLVIT stepped in to make it clear that this condition was not in line with EU law and that the authorities should accept the registration in the German Chamber of Commerce. All four yachts were registered and charter licences were issued. Solved within 9 weeks. LUXEMBOURG - FRANCE SOLVIT helps Luxembourg architect to work in France An architect from Luxembourg applying to become a member of a regional order of architects in France was refused because the insurance company covering his professional liability risks was not registered in France. The order insisted that the architect should take out French insurance. SOLVIT made it clear that this condition was not in line with EU law, as the architect's Luxembourg insurance company was duly registered with the Luxembourg authorities. This enabled the architect to register with the French order and exercise his profession in France. Solved within 13 weeks. FREEDOM OF ESTABLISHMENT ITALY - GERMANY SOLVIT helps Italian company to establish in Germany An Italian entrepreneur wished to establish his company in Germany and submitted the necessary documents. However, German authorities refused the documents because they were not in the same format as the relevant European forms. After several fruitless attempts to obtain the documents in the requested form, the businessman turned to SOLVIT for help. SOLVIT Italy was able to intervene to clarify what were the requirements from the German authorities, which resulted in the issuing of the correct documents by the Italian authorities. Solved within 8 weeks. 2
5 MARKET ACCESS FOR PRODUCTS ROMANIA - SLOVAKIA SOLVIT releases Romanian washbasins for the Slovak market A Czech company distributes construction products in Slovakia, including washbasins from Romania. The products were imported into the Czech Republic and tested by an authorised Czech body. However, the Slovak authorities ordered the products to be withdrawn from the market unless the company submitted a certificate of conformity issued by the Romanian producer. SOLVIT convinced the authorities that the Czech certificate of conformity would be sufficient for selling the washbasins in Slovakia. The products were released for sale immediately. Solved within one week. UNITED KINGDOM - FRANCE SOLVIT "tips the scales" for UK company in France A British company manufacturing medical scales wished to expand its market in France. The company was already marketing its product in the United Kingdom and a number of other EU countries, and thus conformed to EU rules. However, the French authorities refused to accept the product on their market and requested additional testing. For over a year, the company tried to have their product accepted and in the end asked SOLVIT for help. The company and SOLVIT worked closely together to successfully market the product in France in a matter of weeks. According to the company, SOLVIT helped them avert a considerable loss. Solved within 11 weeks. FINLAND CZECH REPUBLIC SOLVIT clears the way for Finnish vitamins in the Czech Republic A Finnish company applied for permission to launch dietary supplements on the market in the Czech Republic. The Czech authorities claimed that under national legislation the products exceeded the limits for vitamin B and could be harmful for the consumers if marketed as dietary supplements. Even after a year of discussions, the authorities still considered the imported products as pharmaceuticals. SOLVIT managed to convince the authorities that the products were not pharmaceuticals and could be marketed as food supplements, if correctly labelled. Solved within 5 weeks. UNITED KINGDOM - GERMANY Marketing obstacles removed for marine communication products in Germany A UK company which manufactured marine communication products launched a new VHF product used on board non-solas vessels. Although the product was fully in compliance with EU law on radio equipment, the German licensing authorities told the company that customers would not be granted radio station licences to use the product unless it was approved by the competent authority. This re-testing meant that the company had to use additional resources and increased the burden on business. Due to SOLVIT's efforts, the German authorities changed the regulation on the re-testing of such product types and accepted that the principle of mutual recognition took precedence. Solved within 9 weeks. 3
6 ACCESS TO EDUCATION SPAIN - BELGIUM SOLVIT helps Spanish student to start her studies in Belgium A Spanish student wanted to start her university studies in Belgium. However, she could not present an original copy of her secondary education diploma because it had not yet been issued by the Spanish authorities. The Belgian university refused to accept a provisional certificate from the Spanish ministry and insisted on the presentation of the original diploma by December. This meant that the student would miss an entire academic year if the diploma did not arrive in time and so she turned to SOLVIT for help. SOLVIT's intervention resulted in a closer examination of existing rules, which granted additional deadlines in such cases. In the event, the student was granted an extension until May of the following year, renewable for a further year. Solved within 2 weeks. ITALY NETHERLANDS SOLVIT helps Albanian partner of Italian national to study in the Netherlands The Albanian partner of an Italian working in the Netherlands wanted to study at a public university. The university asked for payment of the non-eu residents' tuition fee, which is about three times more than the regular fee. After SOLVIT contacted the Ministry of Education, which then contacted the university, the university changed its position and asked the Albanian woman to pay the standard tuition fee. Solved within 7 weeks. ACCESS TO THE LABOUR MARKET ROMANIA - SPAIN SOLVIT helps Romanian citizen to obtain EU work permit in Spain A Romanian national who was a legal resident of Spain before Romania's accession to the EU contacted SOLVIT regarding his Romanian wife. She had also been a legal resident of Spain before Romania's accession, but did not possess a work permit. When she applied for an EU citizen's residence card with free access to the labour market, her application was denied for reasons unspecified. After SOLVIT's intervention, Spanish authorities acknowledged that their decision was not compatible with EU rules on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the European Union. The applicant's spouse was invited to reapply for the permit, this time with a positive outcome. Solved within 3 weeks. BULGARIA - LUXEMBOURG SOLVIT enables Bulgarian consultant to work in Luxembourg A Bulgarian citizen with a French diploma was offered a job in a consultancy firm in Luxembourg. The company had made the necessary arrangements to obtain a work permit for its new employee. However, the procedure was taking much longer than the expected one to three months, jeopardising the Bulgarian citizen's chances of getting the job. Following SOLVIT's intervention, the applicant received his work permit and was able to start his professional career in Luxembourg. Solved within 8 weeks. 4
7 CAR REGISTRATION SLOVAKIA - SLOVAKIA SOLVIT facilitates German car registration in Slovakia A Slovakian citizen contacted SOLVIT because he could not get his German car registered in Slovakia. The Slovakian authority rejected the client's application because the car allegedly did not meet Slovak requirements in respect of noise and pollution levels, brakes and electromagnetic compatibility. However, the authorised importer confirmed that the client's car fulfilled all conditions laid down by the EC. SOLVIT confirmed that the Slovakian authority was acting contrary to EU law. After a further registration request, the client was eventually able to get his car registered. Solved within 3 weeks. NETHERLANDS - PORTUGAL Dutch car registered in Portugal A Dutch national purchased a car in the Netherlands and then moved to Portugal, where she wanted to register her car. As the registration procedure was unusually lengthy and she was asked repeatedly for additional information, she contacted SOLVIT for help. SOLVIT discovered that the problem had to do with an exemption from car tax: according to Portuguese law, EU citizens are exempt from this tax under specific circumstances. Assessing whether she could be exempt took time, and she also had to present some vital additional documents, such as proof of residency and a statement on the CO2 emissions of her car,. Once all the documents were approved, the car was able to be registered with full tax exemption. Solved within 6 weeks. ROAD TRANSPORT POLAND - SPAIN Polish company receives reimbursement from Spanish authorities While transporting goods from Spain to Ukraine, the driver of a lorry operated by a Polish transport company was stopped for a road inspection in Spain. Due to a discrepancy in the completion of the driver's record sheet, the road inspector confiscated the driver's documents and imposed a fine of EUR 3000, which was paid on the spot. Further proceedings fixed the final amount of the fine at EUR The Polish company had been waiting for their refund for seven months when they contacted SOLVIT. SOLVIT discovered that the authorities did not have the IBAN code of the Polish bank account, but had failed to request it from the company. The misunderstanding was cleared up and the money, including interest due to delay, was reimbursed. Solved within one week. ESTONIA - POLAND Estonian truck driver gets unjustified fine reimbursed in Poland An Estonian truck driver was passing through Poland on his way back to Estonia. He was stopped by a Polish inspection officer and a fine was imposed because the papers he was carrying were in Estonian not in Polish. Since these papers are harmonised under EU law and have a common format for all EU Member States, insisting on a Polish version was contrary to EU rules. SOLVIT Poland convinced the inspection services that they had made a mistake and the fine was reimbursed. Solved within 2 weeks. 5
8 DISCRIMINATION FRANCE - ROMANIA SOLVIT ensures non-discriminatory entry fees to Romanian monasteries A French citizen complained about discriminatory entry fees for tourists to Romanian monasteries. The ticket price for non-romanians was twice that paid by Romanian citizens. As this policy was contrary to EU principles, the Romanian SOLVIT centre persuaded the church authorities to set nondiscriminatory entry fees for the monasteries. Solved within 9 weeks. NETHERLANDS - SPAIN SOLVIT helps Dutch sailor to embark in Spain A Dutch client lived in Spain and worked on a Spanish commercial vessel. The Spanish authorities refused to give her an international seafarers identity document (ISID), because she was not a Spanish national. The Dutch authorities did not issue an ISID because she did not work on a ship registered in the Netherlands. Without an ISID, sailors need to deal with piles of paperwork in order to embark on an international ship for work, which is often not possible because of short-term contracts. Taking a practical approach, SOLVIT Netherlands resolved the impasse, and persuaded the Dutch authorities to issue an ISID. Solved within 7 weeks. DRIVING LICENCE ROMANIA - SLOVAKIA SOLVIT helps Slovenian citizen obtain a new driving licence in Spain. A Slovenian citizen resident in Spain had had his driving licence stolen. This caused serious inconvenience since he needed to drive a car for professional reasons. Five months after he had applied for a new driving licence in Spain, he had still not received a reply. SOLVIT investigated the case and found that the hold-up was due to a language problem. The citizen was informed that he had to provide the police with a copy of the declaration of theft in order to obtain his new licence. Once the document was sent, he received a provisional driving licence, and shortly afterwards his permanent driving licence was sent to his home address. Solved within 2 weeks. 6